Georgia health officials confirm second monkeypox case in the state

Officials emphasized the overall risk to the general public is low, and nothing like the coronavirus.

As the cases of monkeypox continue to rise globally, the Georgia Department of Public Health on Tuesday confirmed a second case of the infectious disease in Georgia.

State epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek announced the second case of monkeypox at a Georgia Department of Public Health board meeting Tuesday. There are more than 1,600 cases in 39 countries including several countries where the disease does not typically occur including Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Earlier this month, DPH announced the first-ever case in the state — a man who lives in metro Atlanta with a history of international travel. He was ordered into isolation where public health officials are monitoring his symptoms, according to DPH. The agency also traced his recent contacts.

The second case is man who also lives in metro Atlanta and has traveled internationally. DPH said the two cases are not related. DPH is also doing contact tracing at this time and this person is also in isolation. DPH is not aware of any other suspected cases at this time.

Georgia Health officials have said they wouldn’t be surprised to see more cases here and in other states, but emphasized the overall risk to the general public is low, and nothing like the coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, the CDC is tracking 65 confirmed cases of monkeypox or the related “orthopoxvirus” in the U.S. including Georgia’s cases.

“Really the epidemiology is pointing to close, person to person spread, not like COVID,” said Drenzek.

The World Health Organization will convene an emergency committee of experts to determine if the expanding monkeypox outbreak that has mysteriously spread outside parts of Africa should be considered a global health emergency.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday the virus has shown “unusual” recent behavior by spreading in countries well beyond parts of Africa where it is endemic. A total of 72 deaths have been reported but none in the newly affected countries which include the U.S.

CDC officials said most of the cases have been among men who have sex with men, but anyone can be infected through close contact with a sick person, their clothing or bedsheets.

The virus is spread through close contact with people, animals or material infected with the virus. It enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, the eyes, nose, and mouth, according to the CDC. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact. Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact between people, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, or touching parts of the body with monkeypox sores.

Currently, there is no specific treatment approved for monkeypox virus infections. However, antivirals developed for use in patients with smallpox may prove beneficial, according to the CDC. The federal government keeps a stockpile of vaccine that can be used to prevent an infection.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.